The South Korean battery cell maker SK Innovation is following Samsung SDI’s and LG Chem’s footsteps and will start building its European plant later this year. Battery cell production will start in 2018.
According to SK Innovation CEO, Kim Jun, Eastern Europe is the most probable location.
“We are considering building a battery plant in Eastern Europe, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic. Eastern Europe offers cheap and quality labor forces. Germany is too expensive to build”.
The new battery cell plant in Europe is needed to supply batteries for upcoming Mercedes-Benz electric cars. However, currently the most popular electric car that uses SK Innovation battery cells is the Kia Soul EV, which recently got its battery capacity increased by 11 % from 27 to 30 kWh.
Curiously, SK Innovation has been saying that its latest battery technology allows electric cars with 350 km of range, while it aims to upgrade it to 500 km by 2018 and 700 km by 2020. I have no idea of which electric cars they are referring to… probably some unknown model from BAIC.
The company is also considering to open a battery cell plant in China, but due to the conflict with North Korea, lately South Korean companies don’t have an easy life doing business in China. The last example is that until very recently, in China electric cars with NMC battery cells – which are made by South Korean companies – weren’t eligible for Government incentives, they had to use LiFePO4 battery cells – which are produced by Chinese companies. For this reason Eastern Europe is now much more attractive to South Korean companies than China is.